May 26, 2023 - Food and Drink

Food Fight: 5 spots for brownies in the Chicago area

Photo of a plate of brownies

Brownies from Bennison's. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

If you believe Palmer House historians, chefs at the historic downtown hotel invented the brownie 130 years ago this month — and it was originally glazed with apricot jam.

State of play: Today the soft, fudgy confection is made all over the world but plenty of folks still make excellent versions around town.

  • We've collected five top spots — from our favorites to readers' picks, plus some honorable mentions — for your sweet tooth cravings.

Bennison's Bakery

1000 Davis St., Evanston

Justin's pick: The quaint throwback bakery at the corner of Davis and Maple is a must-visit when cruising through Evanston. They have all sorts of great pastries and baked goods, but the brownie ($2.89) is the star.

  • It's got a perfect frosting-to-cake ratio, and you can get them with walnuts added.
  • I'd have to choose Bennison's again if this was a fight over lemon bars.

Poppie's Dough

2600 West 35th St. — McKinley Park

Poppie's Dough brownie. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Monica's pick: I'm not a big sweets eater but was recently wowed by a brownie from this woman-owned bakery in McKinley Park.

Lost Larson

5318 N Clark St. — Andersonville

raspberry brownie
Raspberry brownie from Lost Larson. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Lost Larson staffers tell Axios that these special brownies appear in the pastry case about once a week, or whenever they have enough cooks to make them.

  • A bit like Bertha Palmer's original brownie, this one beautifully pairs tart fruit with gooey chocolate.
  • The rich $5 treats are filled and topped with raspberry jam then streaked with raspberry ganache.

Misericordia's Hearts and Flour Bakery

6130 N Ravenswood Ave. — West Ridge

brownie
Brownie Heart from Hearts and Flour Bakery, Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

Misericordia has served Chicagoans with developmental disabilities for decades, and its food programs have highlighted that meaningful work.

  • When Hearts and Flour opened last year, it expanded those programs with a standalone cafe and bakery that showcases its famous heart-shaped brownies ($2).

Dirk's Fish & Gourmet Shop

2070 N. Clybourn Ave. - Lincoln Park

You wouldn't immediately think of a fishmonger when searching for the best brownie in town. But reader Todd G. says Dirk's are "absolutely scrumptious."

  • The Clybourn Avenue shop has been meeting Lincoln Park's seafood needs for decades, but it also offers artisan breads, crackers and sweets.

Honorable mentions:

Beard and Belly: Reader Mary G. recommends the salted chocolate brownies from this Edgewater pub, which is also known for its deep-fried cheese curds, savory hand pies and freshly baked cream and fruit pies.

Sunset Foods: Mike M. says Sunset Foods is the place to go for brownies, specifically the ultimate peanut butter brownie.

And Susan H. says she's never met a brownie that beats the Katherine Hepburn brownie recipe in the New York Times.

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